ANDREW KLAVAN – Corruption. William Morrow, hardcover, 1994. St. Martin’s Press, paperback, 1995.

   Klavan wrote under the name of Keith Peterson an excellent four-book set about the cynical reporter John Wells. This is the first “Klavan” I’ve read.

   Sally Dawes is a small town journalist. Cyrus Dolittle is a powerful Sheriff. They are bitter enemies of long standing. When a body is discovered in the Hudson River, they are once again drawn into open conflict.

   Dawes, convinced with the fervor of a true believer of the Sheriff’s innate corruption, seeks to uncover the true story. Dolittle, engaged in a political battle that is the culmination of his career, seeks to control this situation as he has all others. Few around them escape being drawn into their destructive orbits, and fewer escape unscathed. Some are destroyed, and some merely die.

   The books Klavan wrote as Keith Peterson were darker than the norm and offered few pat answers. Klavan has not written an easy book here, either. The characters are not stock, though a couple of them are very broadly drawn. The situations are not cut-and-dried, black-and-white, or even always good against evil, though there are examples of each. It’s a book wholly about character, and we learn about theirs as the players do. One judgment I’m comfortable in making is that you’ll remember them for a while.

   It’s not a feel good book, and I don’t know whether you’ll “like” it or not, Hell, I don’t even know if I did. It’s worth reading, though.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #13, June 1994.